Dreadstar December 2 – Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar #4

“If this is another dream, I’ll die.”

We approach the end seeing the birth of Kalla Dreadstar and the end of the previous Dreadstar’s story. Not really, of course, as Vanth Dreadstar appears in the final panel of this issue and in the next two issues, but... actually, we begin to see Peter David take the cyclical nature of his previous approach on Dreadstar and do it again, substituting Kalla for Junior. There’s something very rote about these issues. It’s not a going-through-the-motions so much as it is a been-there-done-that feeling even with a new set of characters and some returning faces. Vanth faces down a larger-than-life power and we find ourselves propelled into the future. There’s corrupt/evil government people. There’s subterfuge and killing with the Sword of Power. There’s the barren arctic wasteland. All of it feels very familiar... even my criticism here.

A big problem with this book is that there isn’t actually a plot so much as a stumbling through the idea of what happened next to these characters. The big hole that I’ve never been able to look past is what exactly the Lord High Papal is planning. He alludes to the power shifting and the loss of his religious flock certainly puts him in a position where he must start again, but why go to Skeevo? The only reason seems to be so Kalla can be thrown right into the on-hold-until-now narrative of Dreadstar and company. It’s forced and inorganic. If the Papal is concerned about the Zon, there must be many ways to approach the problem that don’t involve that particular group of people. It’s a large galaxy; large enough to simply pack up and begin anew elsewhere.

So, we’re left less with a story than a plot engine towards “How can we bring these characters together as quickly as possible?” One that runs from motiveless plots to incredibly large coincidences, like the one that has Kalla reunited with her mother by the end of the issue. The remaining issues do little to change this impression. Yet, as one of the comments in yesterday’s post brought up, we never see Oedi again after the flashback scene in this issue. He helps Kalla survive her own birth and that’s it. He would later reappear in ’Breed III, but not in this comic. Why not?

I’ve thought long and hard about it and the only answer that makes sense is that there wasn’t room for the character. While this is a series where the plot is focused entirely on bringing these characters together, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t trying to do so as efficiently as possible. Maybe there was a hope for more than these six issues with the way that it eventually ends and the whereabouts of Oedi were saved for the future. Given Vanth’s role in this series, there is a certain logic to his closest friend and ally being absent. His involvement would possibly reduce the agency of Kalla; it’s not inconceivable that he would simply overpower the story and try to get his friend back to his old self without going through all of the bullshit Kalla, Willow, and Cookie do.

It’s a puzzle. One of the few interesting things about this series, unfortunately.

Tomorrow: Vanth Dreadstar returns.

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